ESOL in Goochland County

Just another Goochland County Schools Blogs Sites site

ESOL in Goochland County - Just another Goochland County Schools Blogs Sites site

Annual ESOL Volunteer Luncheon

Yesterday, April 25th, I was pleased to host my 6th annual ESOL volunteer luncheon to recognize my volunteers for the hours they have spent to enrich and enhance the lives of my ESOL students. Many of my volunteers work either in-school or after school tutoring to help ESOL students with homework and preparation for SOL tests. Here is a tally I made of the hours in just the past year that my volunteers have spent so far in service to Goochland County’s ESOL students.

Following are pictures of the volunteers, former volunteers, cohorts, and friends who attended the luncheon yesterday.



Language Fair; Raising Awareness of Child Labor

This year, the middle school ESOL students have been busy completing a Project Based Learning activity in which they are raising awareness of child labor.

The primary goal of a PBL is to present the final project to a live audience. For this reason, we were delighted to be invited to participate and display our work at the World Language Fair hosted by Leona Barnes and Katy Jones. The language fair was school-wide, with each room partitioned off for different activities.

The GMS ESOL students presented their PBL to visitors, made pinwheels, and streamed a video on child labor, all in an attempt to raise awareness of child labor.

Following are some pictures of our visitors and their participation.

World Language Fair

This next week, the GMS ESOL students will be participating in the World Language Fair. We will be displaying our work from our project based learning activity, which involves raising awareness about child labor.

The activities of the day involve the following:

Streaming videos for the public, from “Made in a Free World

Encouraging visitors to start their own awareness campaigns and start their own fundraisers.

We will also be making pinwheels to raise awareness of child labor/abuse.


Ms. Geri

Following are some pictures of my volunteer, Ms. Geri, who meets with two of my ELLs each week, one in Kindergarten and one in third grade.

Ms. Geri supplements the grade level content my students are currently working on (i.e. Math or Reading). She does this by following our teacher’s blog postings and lesson plans. She also communicates with the teachers. I’m so thankful for her intervention!!! The ELLs always tell me “Ms. Geri” updates whenever I see them:) She makes her tutoring times special and exciting…But, she also ensures that my students receive plenty of one-on-one review in areas in which they need extra instruction. Thanks Ms. Geri for all you do!!!!

Visit to the Kindergarten

On April 2nd, my two High School ELL level 1 students made a trip to read story books to Ms. DeLong’s Kindergarten class. In class, we had been practicing these children books for pronunciation and fluency. What better idea to give my student’s confidence! I was so proud of my teen-aged ELL’s, who read their books confidently and fluently to this small group of Kindergartners, some of which are ELL 1′s too. They also were prepared to answer the K’s questions-as we also practiced potential questions that the students might ask. Surprisingly, we were right on target with some of their questions…


“I Have a Dream”; Way to Decipher Poetic Elements and to Build Fluency

In ESOL resource classes, grades 6-8, we have been studying Martin Luther King’s speech as part of Black History Month and also as a precursor to my G21 lesson, which begins in the month of March and will touch on issues related to human rights and human justice.

Here are the activities we have done this far with the “I Have a Dream Speech”

1). We read the speech, stopped at each paragraph and deciphered poetic elements that Martin Luther King uses. For example, in the first paragraph of his speech, MLK states,

“This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”

For this activity, we looked up words such as “beacon” or “seared.” Then, we drew pictures of these images in the columns, as a means of deciphering this figurative language.

i.e. For “Beacon of Light” we drew a lighthouse shining light on a person. For “seared in the flames” we drew a symbol for fire and then wrote the word “justice” and put an X across it. We then shared our pictures, discussed the poetic elements (i.e. metaphors and similes”) and then used the key vocabulary words in own own sentences as a means to familiarize students with the usage.

2). We summarized paragraph’s 4 and 8 of “I Have a Dream” speech. Students filled out graphic organizers in which they recorded the main ideas of these paragraphs. Then, they summarized the paragraphs in their own words and orally shared with classmates what they thought the paragraph said.

3). We listened to the speech “I Have a Dream” on our Promethean Board so that the video was life size and we could hear MLK clearly. We read the speech along with MLK as a means to practice fluency. My hope is to show the same speech again next class, this time using the Winchester’s Public School’s version of “I Have a Dream” speech. I will ask student to again read along out loud as a means of practicing fluency.

This entire activity fulfilled the ELL language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. In addition, it tied into the VA SOL standards related to reading comprehension, deciphering poetic elements, and history SOL’s re: to the civil rights era. Most importantly, this activity provided students a larger picture of the character traits of a true hero. It also provided students a picture of those in the past who fought for something greater than ourselves, and who fought through the use of passive resistance. This subject ties in nicely to my G21 activity, in which I hope to focus on issues re: to human justice and equality.

New Volunteer for the High School

I want to welcome a new ESOL volunteer to the Goochland High School volunteer program. Rebecca, a talented local architect, has offered to tutor a high school ESOL student once a week in Geometry.

Rebecca boasts of a three year experience of teaching English as a Foreign Language in Mexico. In addition this this experience, she already has made personal connections to ESOL families in the Goochland community. Recently, she has organized a “Coffee and Conversation” event in which she meets with several Hispanic mothers in the Goochland Community who need to improve their English speaking skills.

Thank you so very much Rebecca for your time and consideration toward ensuring that my Goochland ESOL student meets her academic goals.  Also, thank you for also devoting your time to working with Hispanic families so that we can bridge language barriers, thus helping these individuals to become contributing members of our community!


Following is a picture of my high school ESOL student who is proudly part of the Goochland High School JROTC program. I want to give a special thanks to Major Michael Petruzziello and Staff Sergeant Daniel Strong, who both have a background working with ESOL students in their prior school system. Both JROTC staff have already helped me, as ESOL teacher, and were instrumental in helping this ESOL student to adapt to school culture and understand appropriate social skills and interactions during his first year in a U.S. High School. They have also been instrumental in helping me meet the learning goals on my student’s Individual Instruction Plan (IIP) under the category of “Social Instruction” which involves the listening skill of following simple commands pertaining to classroom routines using illustrations (e.g., “Close your book.”)

Thanks to the JROTC program at Goochland Highschool, which serves not only one ESOL student, but many other former English Language Proficient students, several of which have shared with me their hopes to join the U.S. military when they graduate.

ACCESS Testing; Prueba de ACCESS

GES, GMS, and GHS will be starting ACCESS for ELLs Summative Assessment testing from February 2nd to February 20th, 2015. For more information on the ACCESS test, please click this following link to

GES, GMS, y GHS tendrán las pruebas de evaluación sumativa de los estudiantes ELL a 2 de febrero hasta el 20 de febrero, 2015. Para obtener más información sobre la prueba de acceso, por favor haga clic en el siguiente enlace para

SMART Goals and Reading Comprehension

Our school has been tying our SMART Goals into our student data which is connected to MAP scores (Northwest Evaluation Association). Each of my students take a Fall pretest and create a projected RIT goal based on their own progress. The Reading data has goals performances which focus on the three categories:

1). Word Origins, Expand Vocabulary, Semantics.

2) Comprehension of a Variety of Fictional Texts.

3). Comprehension of a Variety of Nonfiction texts.

Goal performance #1 is connected to goals 2 and 3. Without knowledge of word origins, vocabulary and the semantics, students will not be able to comprehend what they read.

Following are some of the activities that I’ve chosen to do to enrich reading skills with my ESOL students in the Middle School and High School. Vocabulary comprehension is key for my students, and for this reason, here the following activities we have completed throughout this past semester.

1). Focus on Cognates. We have a word wall in my classroom in which we have compiled as we read through texts and passages. All my students are Spanish speaking, so we are constantly referring back to their L1 to make analogies to the Latin words and how they compare to the English words.

2). Focus on Parts of Speech. Earlier in the year, all my students created a Parts of Speech handbook delineating and writing examples of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions). When we talk about vocabulary in a text, we always refer back to our handbook to decide which part of speech the word belongs to. We record the words on a word wall-in categories by their part of speech.

3). Focus on Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots. I have printed off DOE handouts which are taped to my student’s tables and are in the back of their ESOL folders. We constantly break apart the words we learn (after deciding what part of speech they are). We will change a word around and decided how the suffix changes the part of speech. For example, to oppress is a verb, oppression is a noun, and he is oppressed is an adjective. Here is an example of the sheets my students refer to from

4). Focus on Reading Comprehension strategies. Many of the activities come from the Virginia Department of Education English Enhanced Scope and Sequence Sample Lesson Plans. I’ve tweaked some of the activities to make them my own. For example, finding context clues in a story, we use sticky notes as we read. Students record the following on their sticky notes:

  • Difficult Word
  • Context clue(s)
  • ? (what do I think it means)
  • Definition: I provide the definition or we look the word up in their dictionary.

5). Focus on Dictionary Skills. My ESOL students must learn dictionary skills if they are going to conquer the SOL tests (paper-back dictionaries are only permitted). When we are participating in reading activities, I daily remind students to look up words in their dictionary. Using the paper-back dictionary requires numerous amount of skills (analytical skills are required to find the word, identifying prefixes/suffixes of the word, and decide which parts of speech we are looking for).

6). Focus on Applying Vocabulary to Sentences. I truly believe that vocabulary is best learned in context of a passage/text. In the same vein of thought, vocabulary must be used and written in a sentence. I can truly evaluate if a student understands the vocabulary word when they can use it correctly in a sentence. They demonstrate that they understand the semantics and the syntax.

Understanding vocabulary holistically and it’s complexities is directly tied into reading comprehension. For this reason, these are just a few of the strategies I have utilized to help my ESOL students this semester.